Crusaders vs Coleraine: European dream on the line in final game of the season

A picture of Crusaders' Daniel Larmour tussling with Coleraine’s Jamie McGonigle
Crusaders' Daniel Larmour tussles with Coleraine’s Jamie McGonigle -Credit:INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Jamie McGonigle says it is going to take another "professional performance" from Coleraine if they are going to achieve their European dream.

The Bannsiders were on the money against Glentoran last Wednesday night with McGonigle scoring a brace in the 3-0 win to set up a winner-takes-all showdown against Crusaders at Seaview this afternoon. The striker knows it won't be easy against his former employers but feels Coleraine are in a good place again going into the clash.

"When I came in, the spine of the team was really missing, if you do that to any team they're probably going to struggle," said McGonigle. "I knew what I was coming back into, we weren't going to win the league but it was all about trying to get into Europe, and this was our most likely way if we didn't win the Irish Cup.

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"It's probably going to take more of the same that we produced against Glentoran for us to get a result so we'll need another professional performance.

"There are similarities between Crusaders and Glentoran. They get it forward quickly and play off second, so it will be up to us to win those second balls. We'll have to work as hard again, keep a good shape and pick them off at the right time."

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter highlighted the similarities in form between his own side and Coleraine. The Crues have also turned things around in fine style since the turn of the year.

"Our form has been absolutely sensational since then so I'm very pleased with where we're at," he said. "We've mirrored Coleraine because they went through the exact same spell as we did at the exact same time when Oran [Kearney] was getting a bit of stick for bits and bobs.

"We've both got our key players back and the form has lifted. They have been superb as well in the last month or two."

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